Connected By Pride: A Q&A With Ricardo Aspiazu

October 9, 2019

By Denise McDevitt

ANA

To honor Pride Month last year, Verizon released an ad showing LGBTQ+ youth calling their families and loved ones to come out to them. The ad, "Connected By Pride," garnered praise from many and won a 2018 ANA Multicultural Excellence Award for Verizon and its lead agency, McCann. The ANA's Denise McDevitt spoke with Ricardo Aspiazu, director of marketing communications at Verizon, about the spot. This year's ANA Multicultural Excellence Awards winners will be announced at the 2019 Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference, Presented by Pandora.

 

Q. When did the concept click for you? What was that "aha" moment?

The agency team came to us with a proof-of-concept video that included videos of LGBTQ+ youth coming out to their loved ones. All the calls were very emotional, but when I saw the clips of the calls that didn't go well, it really struck a chord. As marketers, we can use our communications not only to sell products and services, but also to make a difference in the world. It made me think: we can show people that these calls can be difficult, but love and acceptance is possible, especially if we take the time to understand and accept our differences. And, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community who has experienced this personally, I felt it was my responsibility to showcase these stories and share that message.

 

Q. What was your biggest challenge in bringing this idea to life?

Achieving the right balance. We wanted to be celebratory, but also recognize that coming out is an emotional and sometimes painful experience for LGBTQ youth and their loved ones. It was important that we bring forward messages of acceptance, understanding and affirmation. Pride is a month to recognize and celebrate the enormous strides made by the LGBTQ+ community in its march towards equality, but it's also an opportunity to bring awareness to ongoing issues and obstacles our community still faces. Understanding the full ecosystem of the campaign and how to activate our message across different touch points was something we carefully considered.

 

Q. If given the chance to do it all over again is there anything you would do differently?

We actually did do it all over again this year for Pride 2019. A big learning from last year was that we needed to show both sides of the story. Although we had focused on coming out calls that went well, we needed to bring visibility to the many calls that don't go well. We wanted to show that there is always an opportunity for friends and family to reconnect with their LGBTQ+ loved ones to work out their differences, talk through their misconceptions, and ultimately come back to a place of love and acceptance. We plan to continue evolving the campaign in the future.

 

 

Q. What was the biggest take away for you and your team in this experience?

As marketers, there is nothing more rewarding than utilizing our expertise to bring visibility to the stories and experiences of minority groups and communities. Working on this campaign really energized our teams because we had the opportunity to see change happen in real time when these families reconnected and worked through their differences. Working with our partners at PFLAG to make this happen was equally rewarding, and we will continue to drive more programs and partnerships like this one across a platitude of segments.

 

Q. The ANA recently released a report, "U.S. Multicultural Media Forecast 2019," based on a study conducted by PQ Media on behalf of the ANA's Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM). Could you share your thoughts on the findings and the key takeaways marketers need to be aware of?

Multicultural consumers continue to grow in influence and importance, and marketers are realizing the need to change how they engage them as evidenced by the shift away from a total market approach in favor of more endemic media buys. Relevance is critical, and that means taking the time to understand them on a cultural level — not just how and where they consume media. Like all savvy, modern consumers, minority groups want to have their voices heard and feel they are understood.

 

What do you see as being the most effective trends, strategies, or platforms to be utilizing in reaching multicultural markets in the year ahead?

Brand activations, especially at the local level. It's important to connect with multicultural consumers in their communities and it allows for deeper engagement and relevance. Whether that's working with local influencers, producing culturally relevant local experiences, or investing in local initiatives, brands need to be active in the multicultural communities they serve.


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